Times are tough. If you find yourself amongst the lucky few who are able to afford a vacation, you might be trying to find ways to cut down the cost as much as possible.

Nashville is a great option for those who are looking for a low-budget vacation destination. The temperate weather makes it possible to enjoy affordable outdoor activities, and the rich culture and history mean that there are many accessible educational sites that are usually cheap, if not completely free.

Below is a list organized by activity type, starting with a top-five list of exceptional activities.

Table Of Contents

Our Top 5 Picks

1. View the Tennessee State Museum. The Tennesee State Museum is a great place to learn about the history and details of Tennesee as a state and government, and it’s 100% free to visit!

2. Travel the Honky Tonk Highway. More than just your average bar hop, The Honky Tonk Highway is the main stretch of some of Nashville’s most iconic honky tonks, many of which provide multiple free shows per day.

3. See the Nashville Art Crawl. On the first Saturday of every month, Nashville’s finest art establishments open their doors to a free viewing of their most magnificent pieces. Admission is completely free, and oftentimes, there are refreshments provided.

4. Play Loteria at Plaza Mariachi. Tuesday nights starting at 6:00 pm at the Plaza Mariachi is Loteria night! For those unfamiliar, it’s kind of like a Mexican version of bingo. It costs nothing to play.

5. Tour Fort Nashborough. See some of Nashville’s fascinating history firsthand at Fort Nashborough. It doesn’t cost anything to enter, and there’s a fantastic park where you can walk the dog, or have a picnic!

Art Galleries, Museums, & Educational Activities

The Zeitgeist Gallery is a modern art gallery that prioritizes local Nashville artists. By offering free admission, locals and tourists have access to a wealth of beautiful, local photography, sculptures, and paintings which in turn also provides hard-to-come-by exposure to the creators.

Visit The Zeitgeist Gallery Thursday through Saturday, or by appointment.

7. Stop at Cooter’s Place

The Duke boys are at it again! It may be lost on the newer generations, but The Dukes of Hazzard was a great long-running show in the 70s and 80s about a small town in Kentucky where two good-at-heart troublemaking cousins did stunts in their 1969 Dodge Charger.

There was also a mechanic character named Cooter, played by actor, Ben Jones, who went on to open up a museum of Dukes of Hazzard memorabilia in Nashville. Admission is completely free, so whether you’re a fan of the show or not, it’s worth seeing!

8. View the Downtown Presbyterian Church

One of the many draws to a hobby in architecture appreciation is that it costs nothing to look at a building. The Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville serves as both a house of worship, as well as a view into the unique era of architecture known as Egyptian revival.

You don’t need to be a Presbyterian, or even a Christian to go inside, and free tours are available by the clergy every fourth Friday of the month.

9. Experience Fort Donelson

Nashville is rich in Civil War history, and one of the most historic battles of the war took place in the Nashville area.

Fort Donelson was a Confederate fort and battery that was lost to Ulysses S Grant’s troops at the height of the war. If you consider yourself a Civil War buff or a history lover in any capacity, Fort Donelson is a must-see. It’s completely free to view and learn the events and details that took place there.

Nashville is full of outstanding art galleries, and Tinney Contemporary gallery is no exception. At Tinney Contemporary, you’ll be amongst the work of rising local stars, as well as contemporary artists from around the world. Best of all, it’s located downtown and free to enter. They operate from Tuesday through Saturday.

11. Nashville Public Library

Nothing beats the Nashville Public Library for good clean (and free) fun! All of the regular services are available such as the ability to check out books or use the computers, but there are also amazing events for both kids and adults that run year-round, completely free to attend. Check the website for more information!

12. Tour the Vanderbilt University Fine Art Museum

Art lovers shouldn't miss an opportunity to check out the Vanderbilt University Art Museum at Cohen Memorial Hall. Upon entering the antique doors and walking through the marble corridors to the world-famous pieces on display you’ll be awarded an experience that would not normally be available for free of charge.

13. Tour the Tennessee Agricultural Museum

What could be better than a museum that also has a petting zoo? How about if entry into that museum was absolutely free? The Tennesse Agricultural Museum is a special place located in Nashville that lovers of agriculture, gardening, and nature will appreciate.

Be sure to check out the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s website for special events such as an elite farm-to-table meal!

14. Visit the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame

Sports fans will be happy to know that there’s an amazing hall of fame dedicated to athletes from or playing on teams from Tennessee. Walk through the exhibits and learn about the history of team sports in Tennessee and hear the intimate details of the lives of those who brought us the most incredible moments in Tennessee sports.

The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame is open Tuesday through Saturday and is completely free to enter due to generous sponsorship by FedEx.

15. Tour the Tennessee State Capitol

Visiting the Tennesee State Capitol is an entirely free educational activity for all ages. Information on the history of this great state and the fine details of how the Tennessee state government operates is available to those curious-minded travelers.

Reserve a guided tour on the website, or do a self-guided tour between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

LeQuire Gallery is owned and operated by nationally-recognized sculpture artist, Alan LeQuire, known for his most famous work, Athena Parthenos, the largest indoor sculpture in the Western Hemisphere which is permanently installed at the Nashville Parthenon.

It is primarily a sculpture gallery, with many magnificent sculptures available for viewing and for sale, but they also have paintings as well. The LeQuire Gallery is open from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, Tuesday through Saturday, and requires no admission fee.

The Sarratt Art Gallery is a rotating contemporary art gallery with a breathtaking display of paintings and sculptures. It’s operated through Vanderbilt University, and admission is completely free.

One of the many draws is that, unlike many galleries, it’s open every single day of the week, and late into the night, so no matter what days you happen to be in Nashville, you will almost certainly be able to fit in a visit before you leave town. You can view the many pieces from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm during the week, and from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm on weekends.

18. Experience the Lane Motor Museum

Gear-heads, this one’s for you! The Lane Motor Museum is an amazing experience for car lovers of all ages to view some of the world’s most unique vehicles. Some of the more interesting exhibits include vintage Grand Prix racers and the Helicron  —  a car with an engine propelled by a wind-up propellor.

The museum is completely free for members of the museum, and to kids under five years of age. Non-member adults will pay ten dollars.


19. Tour the Ole Smokey Distillery

One of the most affordable distillery tours that money can buy is the Ole Smokey Distillery located in downtown Nashville. It’s a great place to learn the history of distillation and the process Ole Smokey uses to make their spirits.

The tour costs ten dollars but includes a ten-dollar coupon for any of their products, as well as multiple liquor samples and tastings, a free beer, and a complete tour of the facility.

20. Walk around the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Botanical Gardens

For lovers of botanical gardens, the Gaylord Opryland Resort Botanical Gardens is next level. This massive botanical garden is located in the lobby of a resort and is completely free to tour. In the two to three hours it takes to make it through the path, you will have seen over fifty-thousand tropical plants.

This is the perfect activity for the wintertime as the greenhouses get nice and toasty, and if you are inclined, there is a spa in the same facility, as well as a bar and restaurant.

21. Attend a wine tasting at Arlington Vineyards

The wine-tasting experience at Arlington Vineyards is well worth the price. For the cost of a $14.00 entrance fee, you’ll get four 2 oz samples of quality local wines and access to their beautiful facility and outdoor seating.

There are a few higher-cost tasting packages available that might be worth investing in for aficionados, but even the basic package is great.

Reservations are required and there may be limits to what the facility can offer in the winter months. Check the website for more details.

22. View the Music City Walk of Fame

One of the highlights among Nashville’s music history monuments is the Music City Walk of Fame, and even better is the cost.

Like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Music City Hall of Fame honors significant Nashville musicians with concreted plaques in a walkway that winds through a beautiful park, which is open to the public 24 hours a day, with no admission fees.

Keep an eye out on the website for induction events  —  you never know who will have a spot on the walk next!

23. Tour Nashville’s Murals

Nashville has over 80 authorized murals free for public viewing, from a variety of incredibly talented artists. Some of the local favorites include murals depicting Dolly Parton, a collage of historic concert ticket stubs, and a giant cassette tape.

For a complete list of murals, and a map to find them all, check out this page.

Outdoor Activities

24. Walk the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge

A pedestrian bridge is a great way to get a good feel for a city. The John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge allows a person to get some fresh air and get a good vantage point to view the city’s beautiful skyline, as well as see a few street musicians perform. As with most pedestrian bridges, the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge costs nothing and is open 24 hours a day.

25. Check out the hiking scene

Nashville residents are blessed with temperate weather for most of the year, as well as breathtaking natural areas, and state parks. There is no shortage of options for great hiking spots all around the Nashville area.

One popular place is called Radnor Lake State Park, where you’ll hike beautiful paths through wooded areas and on a boardwalk that runs along a stunning lake. The parks department hosts free weekly nature walks on select days, but they fill up fast so make sure you pre-register. The area is also known to have lots of wildlife, so bring your binoculars!

26. Take the bike for a spin

Biking is a great way to get some exercise on a budget. You don’t need to fill it with gas or wait for it to fully charge, you just get on and go! It’s also a fantastic way to see the city up close!

Nashville has some amazing mountain biking trails for those looking for a little adventure, or you can take the greenway, a 23-mile walking and biking loop accessible to the downtown area.

27. Hit up the local fishing hole

Fishing may be the only sport that you usually end up spending less value on than you make back. A fishing license will set you back $11.00 in Tennessee but if you’re lucky, you’ll make back three or four times that amount in delicious, locally caught food.

There are many fantastic spots to fish in the Nashville area. One popular spot for fishing, swimming, and water skiing is Center Hill Lake. There’s also an amazing waterfall that’s accessible by trail.

28. Take the kayak to the Cumberland River

The Cumberland River makes for excellent kayaking or canoeing. You’ll be able to view the city’s stunning skyline, as well as gorgeous bluffs along the river bank. It’s a completely free activity unless you want to invest in a guide which can actually be pretty affordable in the Nashville area.

One great guide is Cumberland Kayak Adventure, which will run you about $35.00 per person, and includes a one-hour tour.

29. Check out the local birdwatching scene

Looking for a new hobby that won’t cost you more than a pair of binoculars? Try out birdwatching!

The Nashville birdwatching scene is bursting with opportunity. The unique geography of the Nashville area allows for a diverse population of birds  —  basically, the migratory patterns of a wide variety of birds make it possible to spot some rare species that you might not witness in other places of the country.

There are many popular places around Nashville to go birding. One such place is Percy Warner Park, which is a peaceful place on its own to go for a nice walk in nature.

30. Take advantage of local parks

Nothing beats a relaxing day at the park! There are so many options for parks in the Nashville area that it would be impossible to list them all here.

Many Nashville locals often suggest Centennial Park, which is located right downtown near the Tennesse State Capitol and many of the legendary music establishments and honky tonks. It also holds the iconic Nashville Parthenon, which is also a fairly affordable option for an afternoon activity after checking out the park.

Free Or Cheap Events

31. Learn to line dance at the Wildhorse Saloon

How often do you get to participate in an authentic line-dancing experience in one of the country’s most iconic honky tonks? The best part of all? The lesson is entirely free!

The lessons take place at the Wild Horse Saloon from Wednesday evenings through Sunday evenings and take approximately 30 minutes. While it’s completely free to participate, it’s probably a good idea to support the Wild Horse Saloon by purchasing a drink or snack. All experience levels are welcome.

32. Participate at Blues Jam at Starstruck Farms

Blues music is magical. It’s three simple chords with often powerful, relatable lyrics.

If you are a musician who knows a few blues tunes, or can follow along with those who do, you should check out Reba McEntire’s Starbuck Farms on Friday and Saturday nights where they do a blues jam session starting at 6:30 pm. You don’t have to pay anything to participate, and all experience levels are welcome.

33. Find your audience at Rascone’s Writer’s Nights

Man Playing Guitar
Credit: "Evening Muse open mic" by James Willamor is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Rascone’s Writer’s Nights is more than just another open mic. It’s a way for songwriters to plug into the local music scene and show their talent.

Rascone’s Writer’s Nights take place every Thursday and Friday night at 7:00 at The Millenium Maxwell House, located in the heart of downtown. It doesn’t cost anything to participate. Just show up with your instrument!